Gee I’ve missed Test cricket. I’ve missed cricket in general. I’d gone off it for a while. Losing your cricket Grand Final and the Aussies being smashed 4-0 by India will do that. Plus it was the first year I haven’t followed the IPL closely, no Australian TV coverage and didn’t even have the interest to look up the scorecards online. I do like Twenty20 cricket. In small doses. So it was with much anticipation I tuned into the first day of the England v New Zealand Test at Lords last Thursday night. The two teams had fought out a 0-0 three Test drawn series in New Zealand in March and while the Poms would be favourites on their home soil there is much to like about the emerging Kiwi team. The series in March saw the Black Caps dominate but unable to land the killer punch required to win a Test and the series, much like how the 2001/02 Kiwis brilliantly executed their game plan against a super strong Australian team under the captaincy of Stephen Fleming, but couldn’t clinch a win in the nil all series result despite largely outplaying Australia.
The Poms batted first, and slowly at that. But it was engrossing to watch. 4/160 at stumps on day 1. Bowled out for 232 on Day 2. Tim Southee has taken 4/58 for the Kiwis, a tremendous young bowler ideally suited to English conditions with his out-swing and off-cutters. In reply the Black Caps don’t take their chances to grab the match by the scruff of the neck and are all out for 207. Former skipper Ross Taylor makes as good as a 66 as you would ever see but falls when his country really needed him to go on with it. As he often does. Young batsman Kane Williamson continues to impress with his knock of 60. NZ would be disappointed being 25 runs behind. James Anderson passes the 300 Test wicket milestone, only the 4th Pom to do so. What a bowler.
Tim Southee then continued to deliver on his ondoubted promise, being the main culprit in bowling the Poms out for 213 with a brilliant 6/50 with his out-swingers, giving him 10 wickets for the match and a place on the famous Lord’s honour board. The best Kiwi quick since Shane Bond and before him, Sir Richard. Joe Root continues his impressive start to his International career, top scoring with 71, while the ever-consistent Jonathan Trott makes a typical Jonathan Trott 56 (plenty of leg-side shots).
The stage is set. The Black Caps need 239 to win for just the second time at Lords. It will be the third highest ever succesful 4th innings run chase at Lords if they can do it. It’s Monday night in Australia and I’m backing our neighbours to get the job done and defeat our colonial masters. I like New Zealand. My favourite musician, the great Neil Finn, is from there. As is his brother Tim, who I like nearly as much. I’m thinking about other Kiwi things I like. The All Blacks Haka. Dave Dobbyn. Kimbra. Footrot Flats. Phar Lap. Kiwi Fruit. Kenny Rutherford. Fush & Chups. A country whose national sporting colours are black & white.
Just over an hour later and my Antipodean dream is over. The Black Caps are 6/29. I want to go to bed but it’s like watching a car crash. I can’t look away. Eventually the Kiwis are all out for a paltry 68. Letting all of Oceania down. Just glad Australia is part of Asia now.
Stuart Broad is superb, moving the ball away just enough to catch the edge of hesitant New Zealand batsmen. 7/44 for the son of Chris in a man of the match performance. Anderson takes two wickets to give himself 7 for the match. Anderson is the bowler Australia’s fragile top order has most to be fearful of. One of the greatest fast bowlers ever produced by England, definately the best in my time watching the game.
Is New Zealand’s fate to be forever the not quite team? They are super competitive at the moment, they have have great young players coming through and have a much better and settled batting lineup than Australia currently does. Is their being bowled out for 68 in the last innings an idication of how we will go against the same attack?? Possibly. Our bowling lineup of Siddle, Pattinson and whoever else out of Harris, Starc, Faulkner and Bird will cause the Poms heaps of trouble. It’s our batsmen who could win the Ashes back for us, not that I will be putting my hard earned on that to happen.
Back England to win the 2nd and final Test in another hard fought, tight Test match. The Poms, while a very good team, are nowhere near the Australian teams of 1989-2005 and will have have to work very hard to get over the Kiwis, who will fight hard but lack the class to win a big Test match. Like it always has been in the 83 year history of NZ Test cricket.
England 232 (Bairstow 41, Root 40, Trott 39, Southee 4/58) & 213 (Root 71, Trott 56, Southee 6/50) def.
New Zealand 207 (Taylor 66, Williamson 60, Anderson 5/47, Finn 4/63) & 68 (Broad 7/44, Anderson 2/33)
England win by 170 Runs and lead 2 match series 1-0
Malarkey Medal Votes:
3. Tim Southee (New Zealand)
2. Stuart Broad (England)
1. James Anderson (England)